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SOS SOS! MIL is visiting and I need to learn how to make pastry properly!

(48 Posts)
struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 10:14:26

Every time I make pastry it is a DISASTER.

I make it in a Kenwood chef, using the correct K-beater thing. I rest it for an hour, then roll out. Either it cracks really badly, or it shrinks when I put it in the oven and I am left feeling like a domestic demon, rather than a goddess.

I've tried using all kinds of ratios of fat to flour, and combining Trex and butter, and still the same problem. What am I doing wrong?

My bossy MIL is coming soon and has requested pie. I can't face a pastry fail in front of her. PLEASE HELP!

MrsAMerrick Sat 14-Dec-13 12:36:19

omg, thought I had the Mil from hell but now realise she's an angel in comparison with yours, struggling. I can't make pastry either, I use Jusrol and am not ashamed of it, but if I had your mil I woukd be tempted to lie and claim it was my own fair hand. good luck!

Eastwickwitch Mon 09-Dec-13 16:16:08

Sorry I can't link.
But DH won a bet (to make an apple pie) using Jamie Olivers step by step guide. If you google JO home cooking skills it's there.

Blatherskite Mon 09-Dec-13 16:07:00

You're not going to make the pie in front of her are you? How on earth will she know if the pastry is home made or shop bought?

Buy it. Bin the packet. Tell her you made it from scratch. Job done.

She's not going to get it professionally analysed or search through your bins so how will she know the difference?

FennellaSage Mon 09-Dec-13 15:54:28


5 dessert spoons is what I'd use (just ones we use for cereal rather than measuring ones smile)

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 15:54:04

Eastwickwitch - yes I do, and I used it this time, and it worked a lot better. Not perfect though, as it tended to crack a bit when I rolled it out. Try #2 tomorrow!

Eastwickwitch Mon 09-Dec-13 15:51:33

struggling have you got a food processor? Keep it whizzing round & it should clump into a ball.

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 15:46:34

Don't worry Fenella - I added loads of flour to see if it helped, and it has worked! smile Should it be 5 tablespoons of water or 5 teaspoons?

I am going to give it another go tomorrow.

FennellaSage Mon 09-Dec-13 15:37:30

OMG!!!! I'm so, so sorry, stainless steel cat is right, my recipe is wrong should be 16 oz flour, 5 trex, 3 butter! blush blush blush

Was having a mad moment! It should be double amount of flour to fat.

Sorry again <hangs head in floury shame>

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 14:45:18

Update! I have managed to roll out the pastry! It is still not perfect - there are cracks appearing in it when I roll, but it is better than my last disastrous effort!

Thank you all for your help! I am going to keep trying until I get this. I am a bit stubborn like that. smile

AngelaDaviesHair Mon 09-Dec-13 14:10:57

Rich doughs are easier to work. if you've got a recipe that uses ground almonds or other nuts, and/or egg yolks, try that. I found the one below on


8 ounces plain flour
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
3 ounces icing sugar
6 ounces butter, chilled and diced
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind
1 egg yolk


Sift flour, almonds and sugar into a bowl.
Rub in the butter until mixture resemble breadcrumbs.
Add lemon rind and stir in.
Stir in egg yolk to make a soft dough.
Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
Bake at 180-190C, gas mark 4.

StainlessSteelCat Mon 09-Dec-13 14:04:42

I usually use roughly twice as much flour as fat, Fenella's has equal amounts.
Try this recipe

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 14:02:11

whereisshe - I think we both posted at the same time! I would be rubbish at doing condescending. Not because I am lovely (I'm really not), but because I have terrible pubquizitis, i.e. as soon as anyone asks me a factual question I begin to have horrendous doubts about the answer in my head. I can quite easily end up doubting my own age and name within seconds. I lack the necessary sense of certainty to pull off putting anyone in their place. Also, I really do need her to see reason about granddad. Perhaps the best plan is to eat humble pie and get her to teach me, as this will definitely put her in a good mood!

msmiggins Mon 09-Dec-13 14:01:46

Don't pander to her- you are encouraging her bad behaviour.
She may have requested pie but cook what you want to and serve it with a smile.
Don't make pastry if you are not confident. In obeying her requests you are feeding her control.

whereisshe Mon 09-Dec-13 13:53:32

Seriously? The answer here is not to perfect pastry making, the answer is to put your MIL in her place. Yes, baking is a lovely skill to have, but it's hardly the measure of one's success or failure as a human being!

If she keeps giving you shit about your cooking I suggest changing the topic to something you know she's rubbish at... In a mildly condescending fashion ideally (although you sound too lovely to be a little mean, which might be part of the problem).

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 13:51:06

5Hundred - that's a great backup plan, if this doesn't work!

I feel like I'm giving my MIL a bad rep! She doesn't mean to be as rude as she actually is. Her heart is in the right place, but she just isn't very good at thinking about how other people might feel, and acting accordingly.

However, I am very keen for the visit (which isn't for a couple of weeks) to go well, because she and FIL are currently doing a very bad job of caring for my grandfather-in-law. They live at the opposite end of the country from us, so it's a very difficult and delicate issue to handle. Again, they don't mean to be neglectful, they just don't have the first idea how to 'do' care and have been used to having life entirely their own way. The result has been that grandfather ended up in hospital recently, because they went away on holiday without putting carers in place, he didn't take his regular medicine because he gets confused, and he had a seizure as a result and was unconscious for 36 hours. (We didn't even know they were away, as they knew we would have insisted that carers were in place, which is why they didn't tell us). DH is going to convince them that they need to change things up a bit so that grandfather is better cared for, so I am bending over backwards to make everything as lovely as possible so they don't feel attacked.

CMOTDibbler Mon 09-Dec-13 13:46:08

She won't be happy whatever you do. So don't torture yourself - buy readymade and if she is negative, then just 'mmm' at what she says and then start a thread in your head.

I can make pastry, but can't be arsed tbh when the readymade is so good. Even the top chefs buy readymade puff and filo

5HundredUsernamesLater Mon 09-Dec-13 13:33:59

Find a good bakery or farm shop nearby that sells home made style pies, buy one and pass it off as your own. Why stress yourself out, she sounds like she doesn't appreciate your effort anyway. And since when have guests been given the right to choose the menu? That is only acceptable if they have allergies or food intolerance and not just intolerable.

Eastwickwitch Mon 09-Dec-13 13:33:24

Ignore that water bit!

Eastwickwitch Mon 09-Dec-13 13:32:54

Squidge it together with a drop of cold water then bung in in the fridge in cling film. Bet it's fine by 3pm.

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 13:31:46

I think I might have added too much water. I read Fenella's recipe back, and she says 'five spoonfuls' of water, which I read as '5 tbsps'. I have added more flour and it is now a dough. I have no idea if it will work though???

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 13:24:06

OK, so I did Fenella's recipe, and I've managed to screw up. What I have produced looks like cake mix. It is light and fluffy and not at all like dough. Where did I go wrong?

Eastwickwitch Mon 09-Dec-13 13:11:58

I 2nd food processor. Make sure the waters cold & add a few drops at a time with the motor running. Half butter, half trex makes it easier to roll.
Chill for at least an hour.
Waitrose sell all butter shortcrust which is better than mine.
Good luck!

TheHeadlessLadyofCannock Mon 09-Dec-13 13:10:26

She'd have had the lasagne in her face lap if she'd spoken to me like that, OP.

'she asked me if I had been a good girl and whether Father Christmas was going to visit this year. I am 36.' shock

You're putting up with too much shit. Seriously, why bust a gut learning to make pastry to impress her and to make food to her specifications? You are being a doormat. You deserve much better. You deserve at least common courtesy and gratitude from someone you're hosting and feeding.

struggling100 Mon 09-Dec-13 13:06:29

Hahahahahaha!! I love all the sneaky cheats. Brilliant!

I know it is silly, but last time she was here, I served lasagne. I'd made it in advance, and it took absolutely bloody ages to defrost. When I finally served it, she looked at me and said in the tone of voice you'd use to a small child 'What lesson have you learned from this?'. I didn't know where to put myself - I was literally speechless. So she said (speaking really slowly, as if to a very stupid person) 'Freeze... smalller.... portions'.

She was absolutely right, of course. But SHE WOUNDED MY EGO, DAMMIT! So I do not want to ask her advice, even though she'd be able to help and she'd absolutely LOVE showing me how to do it. I know, I know... I should be more humble and magnanimous. But every time I think about it, I hear the time in my head when she asked me if I had been a good girl and whether Father Christmas was going to visit this year. I am 36.

Having read through all of the very helpful suggestions, think I am possibly not adding enough water. And it sounds like the beater is the wrong tool to use altogether! So I will give the food processor a go and see where I get to with Fenella's brilliant looking recipe (which has more fat in it than I've tried too). Thank you so much Fenella!

I will report back!

caketinrosie Mon 09-Dec-13 11:13:02

Ooh struggling100 you are really missing a trick! The secret is when she arrives have all the ingredients together and ask her to show you her method! I swear to god she will dive elbows deep before the words are out of your mouth. Then for evermore she will tell everyone how she helped you find your pastry way and you and her will be friends for evermore. The other side of this approach however is she will regret asking for pie and never ask again. Either way a win all round. then buy jus roll cake fwink

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